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Common traits of successful troops

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Question for 4theboys:

What would happen if the Scouts, Star and above were to start teaching the skills to the Scouts of the lesser ranks ?

Would this start to give more then "Lip Service" To the Boy Led Troop?

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I am posting this here to possible help new scouters get the troop going on the right path. These are personal observations from years of working with hundreds of troops develop strong scouting progra

We have tried to have the older boys teach and they got together and told us adults that they want to spend at least half of their time doing more advanced things, not just bringing the younger ones up the ladder. I was actually proud of them for making a group decision like that and presenting it to us. Now we have sections of our meeting with everyone together, then groups break off to do rank appropriate things, then everyone comes back together at the end. It has helped keep everyone advancing without any boredom.

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While I find Bob White fairly commonly to be on the crusty side when he posts, I find this to be a good checklist for purposes of discussion.


I'm printing it out and I think I'll distribute copies to those attending the next Troop Committee meeting.




Seattle Pioneer

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Great list Bob. Just to stimulate conversation, we used to subscribe to the first class in one year theme. We discovered that we had a bunch of 12 year old first class scouts that wern't ready to hold a position of responsibility, that were eligible for OA, but didn't have the mental maturity to even begin to understand the concept of the obligation. What we do now, is lay out the program, so if any new boys want to take advantage of it, they can attain their first class within 1 year. But most boys go a little slower and it takes 2-3 years, but it is their choice. Anybody else see this, or have any comments?

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Bob you forgot the most important thing about having a successful troop.



If the adults are doing all the planning the boys likely will lose interest.

Boy planned with gentle guidence from well trained adults. Our PLC uses the program planning guide to set the program. There are times we don't do exactly what is in the plan but that is called going with the flow. But for the most part we do use it.


And I partly disagree with the Merit Badges in troop meeting.

Once a boy has earned 1st Class his major focus is on merit badges. Our troop breaks out after 45 minutes and the 1st Class boys work on badges and the others work on rank. I handle the boys who have not earned 1st Class yet. I also utilize the older boys for teaching.

Though I do wear my uniform to most meetings Idon't think that makes a good troop. Yes it is important to set the example of wearing your uniform. But IMHO it isn't one of the top 10 reasons you will have a good troop.]


I feel that District and Council events are a major part of scouting. Our boys love camporees and council events. Some have met scouts from other troops and districts. We are trying right now to set up a camping trip with a troop from another district. Our boys met them at summer camp last year. Have stayed in contact. So hopefully this fall we can get with (what our boys are calling "our brother troop")

You need to remember there is a big big worlds out there outside your own troop. New experiences, new ways of doing things. So explore all your options.

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I think if you look at the list again I did indeed include the importance of the role of the junior leaders in the program.


Scoutmaster concentrates on training Junior Leaders, and knowing the needs and characteristics of each scout.


They use the Patrol Method for everything


They follow the contents of the Boy Scout Handbook


You cannot do these three things and not have youth involved in the troop leadership.


I think boy run is a misused and misunderstood term. Scouting is run by adults. Junior leaders are trained and developed by adults. Scouts within the troop and patrols are boy lead. To what degree will depend on the abilities and skills of the adult leadership.




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Bob. Boys taking JTL does not mean it is a boy run troop. I know a troop that send their boys off to JTL but never allow them to run the troop. It is sad. The SM is such a control freak that he won't let the boys make decissions. He comes to the first planning session with a calendar all ready set up for the first 6 months of the year. Everything is already planned.


Our boys want to make a trip next year. The SM and I got together and I researched what it would cost per boy (about $500). To be honest the only reason I did the research is because they are wanting to go to the part of the country where I grew up and I knew the people to contact. Gave that information to the SPL.

At the next PLC they sat down and looked at the figures and said "looks like we got to raise some money" They are now in the process of figuring out fund raisers. If they make the money the adults will make sure they get to take this trip.


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Bob I know and agree with that. But there are SMs out there that want everything to be "perfect". They things to "run smooth and they don't want the boys messing things up so they simply plan everything. OUr boys do 99% of their own planning. Do things always run smooth, no. But it is their plan. Yes we guide and suggest. But it is their choice. Our Council is putting on a Cub Fun Family Day in October. The gal directing I have work on before on this same event. She called me and ask if my boys would like to help staff. At the last PLC I brought it up. They are going to think about it and make a final decission next meeting. As much as I would love for them to do this, if they don't it is their final choice and I will respect it.

Sometimes it is harder on the adults to let the boys run things but it is better for the boys.


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I agree wwith JR56 that too much emphasis on 1 year First Class Scouts can be counter productive.



Iedeally, senior Scouts would be teaching younger Scouts the basic skills, and relearning and polishing their own skills in the process. Unfortunately, we lack the older Scouts willing to do that kind of teaching for the most part.



So we have monthly themes on basic Scout skills, such as map and compass, first aid and pioneering, and aim to qualify as many of the younger Scouts on the Tenderfoot-1st Class requirements as we can during a structured program of troop meetings and monthly outings.


That often leaves boys with some requirements they need to take some initiative to get signed off ---or it means that adults need to take the initiative to get those requirements signed off over time. Unfortunately, the latter seems to predominate.


These are young Scouts, though. I don't think yet more hand holding is suitable just to get them to advance in ranks rapidly.


They are willing to stay on task for a reasonable amount of time learning skills in a structured program. PLC meetings tend to be about identifying desired monthly themes and outdoor activities, not about planning the details of the Troop meetings and taking responsibility for insuring that needed equipment, materials and trainers will be present.


The SPL, a Life Scout, has a reasonable amount of leadership skills, but he's not able to do the whole thing either. So the aim of adults is to leave the Scouts with as much leadership responsibility as they can handle and to step in to support them to carry out the general plans they make.


It takes time to learn Scout skills. I'm glad to give Scouts the opportunity to advance rapidly, but trying to frog march them to First Class seems like a formula for poorly learned skills or boys bored with too much advancement work.




Seattle Pioneer

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You did it again...

BINGO... great list.

First Class in First year. A good measuring stick as to the activity level of the Troop and committment of your Adult leaders.


It is completely do-able to have your new Scouts achieve FCFY.


Merit Badge comment...

While we do "work on" merit badges during the meeting, it is a part of an Troop activity, not a merit badge class.

For example-

Camping Merit badge, need to discuss different types of tents, stoves etc.


BW, nicely done.



I used to be a BEAVER..

and a good 'ol Beaver too..

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A few years ago, I saw a report published by the BSA on successful troops- I don't recall where it was published (at the time I was engulfed with traiing, roundtable, Pow-Wow, etc. stuff- but it was something cool enough to leave a memory). The results were interesting, and included (to the best of my feeble memory)...


Successful units were those that met advancment and recruitment criteria for several years in a row. I do not remember the other specifics of the definition.


Size: Surprisingly, the 'optimal' size was given at about three healthy patrols and a small youth leadership team- say 20-25 youth. Both larger and smaller units have issues that can cause difficulties.


Activities: Unsurprisingly, they have a big monthly activity and bigger annual activity.


Adults: Strong troops have strong adult support, but not necessarily big committees, etc.


That was about it in the report- there may have been some other points, but these were the big ones. To me, they are all inter-related. You need enough adults to provide effective support (driving, leadership, etc.) To have enough adults, you need enough Scouts. Too many and things get awkward to coordinate (and a lot of the adults tend to figure someone else can do it). Too few and you always acramble to get help. Etc., etc., etc.


Does anyone else remember a report like this?

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